Astrid and Veronika

Astrid and Veronika

4.0 33
by Linda Olsson
     
 

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With extraordinary emotional power, Linda Olsson’s stunningly well-crafted debut novel recounts the unusual and unexpected friendship that develops between two women. Veronika, a young writer from New Zealand, rents a house in a small Swedish village as she tries to come to terms with a recent tragedy while also finishing a novel. Her arrival is silently observed

Overview

With extraordinary emotional power, Linda Olsson’s stunningly well-crafted debut novel recounts the unusual and unexpected friendship that develops between two women. Veronika, a young writer from New Zealand, rents a house in a small Swedish village as she tries to come to terms with a recent tragedy while also finishing a novel. Her arrival is silently observed by Astrid, an older, reclusive neighbor who slowly becomes a presence in Veronika’s life, offering comfort in the form of companionship and lovingly prepared home-cooked meals. Set against a haunting Swedish landscape, Astrid&Veronika is a lyrical and meditative novel of love and loss, and a story that will remain with readers long after the characters’ secrets are revealed.

Editorial Reviews

Ann Harleman
Linked at first by mere accident — Veronika falls ill, and Astrid finds her and cares for her — the two women gradually begin to confide in each other. Unlike the voice of the novel’s omniscient narrator, theirs are natural and vivid, utterly convincing. And unlike the novel’s flatly depicted present, the physical world of the past, in which their stories take place, generously opens to admit us.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

In Swedish novelist Olsson's somber debut, Veronika Bergman returns to Sweden after a childhood following her diplomat father around the world (her mother abandoned the family), and after publishing her first novel titled Single, One Way, No Luggage. She rents a small house in a rural town to work on her second, but in solitude finds herself seized by feverish dreams and paralyzed by the "stillness" of the landscape and the memories of her recently dead fiancé. Reclusive septuagenarian Astrid Mattson, thought by the village to be a witch, takes an interest in Veronika, and the two strike up a friendship based on loss. Against the backdrop of the changing seasons and their small, plangent houses, the two women slowly tell each other their most closely guarded secrets (which concern their mothers and lovers), and venture, tentatively, out of the safety of their routines. Olsson has a clear feel for the emotional wellsprings of both characters, but can't convert her terse lyricism into a fully realized story. (Mar.)

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Two women, four decades apart in age, share their emotional scars while living next door to each other in a small Swedish town. Olsson's restrained debut has the hallmarks of an Ingmar Bergman film: a leisurely pace, a chilly Scandinavian setting leavened by rich observations of nature and characters whose prim, polite facades eventually disappear, exposing years of anger and hurt. Veronika, a 30-year-old writer, arrives in a tiny village looking for a solitary place where she can work on the follow-up to her successful first novel. The house next to the one she rents is owned by Astrid, a septuagenarian shut-in whose husband is slowly dying in a nursing home miles away. Veronika is sad and embittered, Astrid is so closed-off she has a reputation as the village witch, but as their routines increasingly intersect, their relationship thaws, and they become close friends. Over dinners, hikes and trips into town, they discuss the things that prompted them to seclude themselves. By and large, those things are men: Astrid was cruelly rejected by her grandfather as a child, her true love died when she was a teen, and she spent years in a loveless marriage to a domineering man; Veronika left her boyfriend in Stockholm to live with another man in New Zealand, but that relationship had a tragic ending. It's a story with lots of potential to become overwrought, three-hanky fare, but Olsson refuses to give in to that temptation. Her prose is empathetic while remaining steely and unadorned, never overselling the amount of psychic damage that either character has sustained or glossing over the women's flaws. While the plot demands that the conclusion offer some familiar statements about our capacity toheal, Olsson's observations about breakups and dysfunctional families are carefully thought out and free of cliche. The slow pace is sometimes maddening, but it places the women's personal dramas in strong relief. An appealing, if oddly stoic, meditation on friendship.
From the Publisher
Not only impossible to put down, but impossible to forget. (Canvas, New Zealand)

Linda Olsson unravels . . . each woman’s story . . . gradually revealing their grief and loss. . . . This a subtle but powerful novel, tender and poignant. (The Dominion Post, New Zealand)

Linda Olsson evokes, with great beauty and precision, the landscape of a friendship between two very different women, each caught in a tragic moment from the past. Their connection, initially as tentative and fragile as the first filaments of ice, gradually strengthens, allowing each woman to give voice to her stories, and in doing so to reclaim “a heart for beauty.” Subtle, penetrating, and beautifully written, Astrid and Veronika affirms the power of narrative to transform. (Kim Edwards)

Beautiful and deeply affecting. A dreamlike evocation of the power of friendship. (Mary McGarry Morris, author of The Lost Mother and Songs in Ordinary Time)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101536940
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/06/2007
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
168,074
File size:
259 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Not only impossible to put down, but impossible to forget. (Canvas, New Zealand)

Linda Olsson unravels . . . each woman’s story . . . gradually revealing their grief and loss. . . . This a subtle but powerful novel, tender and poignant. (The Dominion Post, New Zealand)

Linda Olsson evokes, with great beauty and precision, the landscape of a friendship between two very different women, each caught in a tragic moment from the past. Their connection, initially as tentative and fragile as the first filaments of ice, gradually strengthens, allowing each woman to give voice to her stories, and in doing so to reclaim “a heart for beauty.” Subtle, penetrating, and beautifully written, Astrid and Veronika affirms the power of narrative to transform. (Kim Edwards)

Beautiful and deeply affecting. A dreamlike evocation of the power of friendship. (Mary McGarry Morris, author of The Lost Mother and Songs in Ordinary Time)

Meet the Author

Linda Olsson was born in Stockholm, Sweden. In 2003, she won the Sunday Star-Times Short Story Competition. Linda has lived in Kenya, Singapore, Britain, and Japan before settling in Auckland, New Zealand, where she lives today. Her previous novel, Astrid&Veronika, was published in 2007.

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Astrid and Veronika 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An amazing story of friendship between two strong women seeking freedom from their pasts. Sweet, tragic and a wonderful read. Loved the cultural aspect as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It shares the slowly developing friendship of two unlikely women. The trust and love they form is very touching and is not often found between those separated so much by age. Though they are years apart they learn they each have deep hurt that has caused them to retreat into themselves and become somewhat reclusive. Once I started this book it was hard to put my ereader down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
loved every word
Joon More than 1 year ago
Fiction is usually not my cup of tea, because it can be predictable and shallow, but Olsson's "Astrid & Veronika" caught my eye, probably because the names are very European. Two very different women, one young and one old, each struggling with their past, come together and form a bond that only some of us are ever fortunate to experience. It will leave you feeling tender and strong at the same time.
Two2dogs More than 1 year ago
Beautiful story! Loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wanted to like this book... but could not. I did not like any of the charactets. However, I did enjoy the way it was written.
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thewanderingjew More than 1 year ago
If you can read only one book, read this slim volume about Astrid and Veronika and the friendship these too unlikely women develop. It is a marvelous tale which transcends age, genre and personal preferences. It reaches for your heartstrings, pulls hard and does not let go even after you read the final page. It is about a friendship which goes beyond the definition of the term. Both women are suffering in their own way from personal demons and their relationship enables them to work them through and find contentment. I read it two years ago and still think of it with amazing warmth and affection.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was such a beautiful story. How two women happened to touch each others lives. I cried, cried and cried more!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Get ready for an extremely well written novel. Get ready for an unusual friendship. Get ready for a book you will not be able to put down. Get ready....you are in for a treat!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was interesting and memorable. There are subtle inuendos throughout that leave the reader wondering the details of some situations and the motivations of the characters for their choices and actions. This one will stay with you for awhile after you put it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book for the beach.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very original touching story. Well written. Highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The characters are so easy to like and yet so different. Very unusual plot about two women at different stages in their lives who form a friendship.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago